An artist’s impression of the world’s largest floating windfarm planned off the coast of Scotland. Photograph: Statoil ASA
The giant Kishorn dry dock will re-open in August, creating 200 new jobs and the first wind farm will be in the water 15km of the coast of Kincardineshire by spring 2018. This looks like being the beginning of the missing link in Scotland’s vibrant renewables sector – the actual construction of the turbines. Scotland’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, who attended the contract signing ceremony, said:
”With 25% of Europe’s offshore wind potential, and through development with due regard to our natural environment, Scotland is strongly positioned to maximise the economic and environmental benefits that both technologies can deliver. The Scottish Government is determined to ensure projects deliver supply chain jobs in communities across Scotland and we have been encouraging developers to do all they can to maximise their economic impact, so today’s agreement is very welcome.”
Note that 25% figure? With the right investment Scotland can become one of the major players in this industry. That we have not been building the turbines ourselves is down to lack of political autonomy. There is not the desire in Westminster to make us successful. With independence, there will be.
That these are to be floating windfarms is important. I’ve already written about their advantages. Stanford University has summarised them:
- The first and most immediately compelling advantage of floating offshore wind is access to incredible wind resource over deep waters. Currently we can only access a small fraction of the offshore wind resource worldwide due to depth constraints.
- Offshore wind is recognized for its proximity to load centers but often still encounters significant NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) resistance. Population centers tend to cluster near the coastlines, so offshore wind minimizes the distance from generation to load centers, without competing for valuable land. Opponents argue, however, that turbines negatively impact the skyline (visual pollution) or result in disruptive noise. Floating turbines address these concerns by allowing wind farms to be pushed farther offshore and out of sight.
- Finally, there are also several manufacturing advantages to floating platforms, such as using less material in construction and reducing the need for specialty marine engineering expertise. One major cost driver for conventional offshore wind are the heavy lift vessels required to erect the turbine. Very expensive special purpose ships are required to transport the parts on site and perform the assembly. Floating turbine platforms, however, are designed to be assembled in port and towed into position using simple barges or tugboats. This can result in major cost savings and greatly increased flexibility in construction.
So, it’s extra good news that Kishorn will be building at forefront on the technology. 15km off-shore will surely even please ‘The Donald’.